For 20 years, 76 year-old Song Peilun has been transforming an ancient valley in Guizhou, China, into a beautiful village of monuments.

When visiting the United States, Song discovered striking similarities between the Native Americans and Guizhou ethnic minorities. After seeing the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota, the world’s largest mountain carving dedicated to all Native American tribes, Song decided he wished to give the indigenous people of Guizhou a similar tribute. The former art professor purchased nearly 50 acres of land in Huaxi, a mountainous area of Guizhou, with his life savings to build his vision.

A Nuo opera performance in China.

A Nuo opera performance in China.

The ancient people of Guizhou had many unique traditions including dances wearing Nuo masks. These masks were thought to hold power against evil spirits and strength during hardships. With this inspiration, Song worked with Huaxi locals knowledgeable in stonework and pieced together giant columns supporting colorful Nuo faces. Now his masterpiece, known as Yelang Valley, is a fantastic wilderness of arching stone stairways, towering castles, and glowering ancient masks.

In addition to being a tribute, Song wished his valley could become an inhabited community. Currently, there are many painters and musicians inhabiting Yelang Valley.

Yelang Valley is a project far from completion. In an interview by Great Big Story, Song says “[The valley] will remain a piece of artwork for our society, our children, nature and history to finish”.

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